tales of a girl in the city

janvier 28, 2006

Dinner With New Mothers

Thursday night was about breastfeeding. About sitting with six women in their thirty-somethings and hearing about newborns, bedrest, thwarted creative endeavors, stepchildren, and pre-school interviews.

It was a baby brought along, to sleep in the corner, and could I "just check to see if he's breathing once and awhile?" It was about thinking, "Oh? Is that all?" but saying, "Ummm...ok," while wishing, "I hope they order another cheese plate."

Still it was also about a distant view of a place I'm headed--somewhere a long way off, but with a beautiful, intimidating, important skyline. It was about the beginnings of a roadmap. About hearing the details for the first time and being able to see myself in them, one day. Not now. But not never.

Thursday was also about sharing. Women sharing: the kind where we started off strangers and ended up confessing: "Swallow. Doggie-style," and "In the parking lot of a church once." Where I got to eavesdrop on Sunday morning conversations with husbands I'll never meet. Where I heard about paintings I'll never see, screenplays that won't get written (But should! But should!). I jotted down the names of movies or books or museums or towns ("I'll definitely have to pick that up/stop in sometime/plan a trip there--maybe in March?"). And meaning to--really meaning to--but losing the napkin, misplacing the paper, feeling the contagious excitement buzz out of me the minute I turned to the next woman (this one on my left) and began with her: "Oh, my boyfriend does that too...".

The lovely diners revealed and revealed: fears and misconceptions, confessions, secrets, memories, arguements and ambitions. I chewed up the most intimate flavors of their lives, but lost their names in the bottom of my third glass of wine.

On Thursday, with my mouth full of the conversations around me, I sipped and sat back and observed. How each woman brought to the room her own unique energy. Something so tangible, it seemed she carried it with her. Opened it up. Set it down like a pocket book on the table or a coat over the back of a chair.

One woman had just had a baby five weeks before. She was newly wise, exhausted but peaceful. Another, my friend--an actress--was hands-in-her-lap and learning, just like me. She glowed as she always does, looking as though she had swallowed a star. Another woman, a brunette, a writer--the not-so-sucessful kind--overshared from the beginning, sloshing up the conversation with awkward boulders (health concerns, loneliness, envy) as soon as she sat down. This when all the other women present had only just started skipping their stones (How are you? How is Daniel?). I cut the brunette woman's obnoxious confessions into thin slices, eating them carefully to remind myself: Don't be like her..

But as for them? The others who were seated there, passing their lives around the table along with steaming plates and bottles of wine? I would like to be like them someday. A few years from now, when my smile-lines are deeper from the years of smiling I have coming. I would like to be strong like them, soft like them. Loud with my laugh. Many-handed with purses and strollers and diaper bags and umbrellas. An easy teller of stories. An easy listener. A star-swallower. A keeper of children, not secrets.

janvier 14, 2006

Why I Don't Do Clubs

It's raining; it's always raining when you're outside in line in January and trying to get into a crowded New York club. And it's high school all over again because suddenly there are Cool Kids and Not-Cool Kids, only--just like in high school--the difference seems arbitrary.

A cab pulls up. A girl gets out. She's pretty. She's with a guy. Suit. Tie. A banker maybe. A millionaire maybe. They flounce to the front of the line.

Gus or Joe or Tito or whatever the 6'8" former Britney Spears body guard behind the velvet rope is named this week, moves aside. Armande or Noel or Salvo or Angel or whatever the 115 pound Marc Jacobs-encrusted weakling with the clipboard and the earpiece is called this week consults his list, and then he moves aside too.

And just like that, the doors open. A brief, booming measure of bass blares out from inside, reminding those in line of all the fun we're not having. And with a flash of silver stiletto and Brooks Brothers navy, the man and woman--the two, the lucky, The Chosen--are in.

Those of us left in line nod inwardly for a moment. She was pretty, after all. And he did look like a millionaire.

But then the pelting, shitty rain brings us back to our freezing cold senses. Because--wait a minute!--I'm pretty too. And the guy I'm in line with doesn't just look like a millionaire, he is one.

janvier 07, 2006


Christmas means bunking down in my parent's house in Wisconsin, watching, like, 80 hours or so of The West Wing on DVD. It means observing my parent's little dog Buster Bumbles as he stress-eats (my brother and I returning home for the Holidays scares him almost as much as thunder). It means my weird extended family (dad's side) and my fun extended family (mom's side). It means being reminded that I am closely related to people who have mullets. It means catching up on Packer-talk. My mom making lists of everything. And my dad telling us the Latin names for all the winter birds in the yard.

Add to that a tree that I have hug-tested in the field right before Dad chopped it down.

Add me breaking out into spontaneous choruses of Christmas carols just to make the dogs howl.

Add my mom telling my vegan brother, "This is vegan. There's no meat in it all. Just three kinds of cheese and about a pound and half of butter. And sour cream. And eggs. But no meat. I made it just for you." Followed by my brother explaining patiently for the gajillionth time, "Mom, if there's dairy and eggs in it, it's not vegan." To which, my mom will counter, with real hope in her eyes, "Well, then, what if I make it with fish?"

And that's Christmas.